We’ve become so accustomed to Apple’s iterative smartphone launches each year that the iPhone 14 event represented one of the most exciting in recent memory. Sure, the base model was practically identical to its predecessor, but Apple gave us a Plus instead of a Mini and the Pro devices introduced a brand-new punch hole display.
The instantly memeable Dynamic Island (Apple’s fancy name for the screen cutout and its corresponding software enhancements) is the biggest shakeup to the iPhone design in years. In many ways, it made up for a lack of innovation elsewhere in Apple’s flagship phone lineup, with plenty of consumers deciding there was no need to upgrade just yet. Will 2023’s iPhone 15 series offer more than just superficial improvements and convince more people to make the jump? Let’s find out.
Will there definitely be an iPhone 15 series?
Yearly iPhone updates are about as certain as the changing of the seasons. Even if the phones don’t really change all that much, we can be sure that Apple will launch new versions accompanied by a slick launch event and flashy marketing. 2023 will be no different, as evidenced by the rumors and leaks already swirling about the iPhone 15 series.
We’re expecting four new iPhone models in 2023, with the same basic outline once more. Just like the iPhone 14 lineup, there will likely be a regular iPhone 15 with a larger Plus offering (even if sales haven’t been stellar for the iPhone 14 Plus), as well as two more expensive, higher-end phones. The naming scheme may well be the same, but we’ve heard whispers that Apple might be considering turning the Pro Max into an iPhone Ultra. This would be in line with the branding the company recently introduced for its top-of-the-line Apple Watch and could allow it to charge an even heftier price tag. It would need to be differentiated from the smaller iPhone Pro, however, with new materials or enhanced capabilities.
When will the iPhone 15 release date be?
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
The last two generations of iPhone were announced in the middle of September and went on sale soon after. There’s nothing to suggest Apple will break from this cycle in 2023, so barring any unforeseen circumstances or supply chain issues, we’d bet on a September 2023 launch event for the iPhone 15 range.
If Apple does decide to mix things up and unveil a beefed-up iPhone 15 Ultra, there’s a chance it may do so at a separate event. With what we know at this point, a single announcement show still seems the most likely.
What features and specs will the iPhone 15 series have?
With the introduction of the Dynamic Island changing up the design of the iPhone 14 Pro models, you might expect 2023’s devices to be entirely iterative propositions. On the contrary, some headline new features could be coming our way.
It goes without saying that Apple will launch a brand-new processor, and according to Nikkei the expected A17 Bionic could be the first built on TSMC’s new 3nm process. Hopefully this will be used in all iPhone 15 models — Apple reserved its new A16 Bionic for the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max while the cheaper models were stuck with last-gen silicon. The Pro devices could be in for more RAM in 2023 and although there are reports that Apple is building its own modems (Bloomberg), it doesn’t look like these will be ready for the next iPhones. Qualcomm modems will have to suffice for one more year.
USB-C or not USB-C?
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
Apple has admitted it will have to comply with EU law and ditch its proprietary Lighting port in favor of a USB-C connector. The mandate doesn’t come into effect until 2024, but Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, among others, believes Apple may rip the band-aid off sooner and stick a USB-C port in the iPhone 15 series. If it turns out to be correct, this will be a seismic event in the Apple hardware world — millions of Lighting cables will no longer be of use to anyone buying a new iPhone. Like many other smartphone makers, Apple no longer includes a charging adapter in the box. So even though you’ll get a USB-C to USB-C cable with an iPhone 15 purchase, you may need to upgrade your brick anyway.
Despite the inconvenience for consumers who own lots of Lighting accessories, this will be a positive for many. Macs and iPads have been using USB-C for years, as have most other modern tech devices, so this will mean one less cable to pack when you go on trips. While it’s not clear that Apple definitely will bring in USB-C for the iPhone 15, it’s also not clear if it would apply to all models if it did. It could choose to only update the port on the Pro models or only certain SKUs in certain regions. It’s also possible that Apple will limit the transfer speeds for the cheaper iPhone models in order to differentiate between them. Time will tell, and it could be short-lived anyway with an entirely portless iPhone rumored to be coming in the next few years.
Dynamic Islands all round
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
The cutout display of the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max was the most hotly anticipated feature of the current-gen devices, but the regular iPhone 14 and new Plus model had to make do with the dated notch. Rumor has it that (via Ross Young) that all iPhone 15 variants will ship with the newer pill-shaped hole and Dynamic Island software experience. An even more advanced version of this with invisible under-display Face ID sensors and a smaller camera cutout is touted for the iPhone 16 Pro, but we’ll have to wait and see about that.
Even better photos
Whether it’s with improved hardware or software smarts, Apple always manages to do something new with its smartphone cameras each year. In 2023, we’re expecting the latest and greatest Sony imaging sensor for enhanced main camera performance (possibly reserved for the Pro models). It’s said to be a “state-of-the-art” sensor that can take in more light and double saturation signal level in each pixel.
A periscope zoom lens is tantalizing prospect that could represent the biggest iPhone camera upgrade in years.
More interesting than that is the rumor that Apple is finally going to opt for a periscope lens capable of 5x or 6x optical zoom, although this could be exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro Max/Ultra. Folded zoom cameras have graced high-end Android flagships for a few years now, so this is another example of Apple catching up. It’s still a tantalizing prospect, though, and could represent the biggest iPhone camera upgrade in years.
Embracing curves once again?
Apple moved away from curved iPhones and back to the flat edge aesthetic with the iPhone 12. With the iPhone 15, the company could be set to mix things up again and go for rounded edges on at least one side of the device. According to leaker ShimpApplePro, we may see something similar to the iPhone 5C, where the front is flat but the rear is curved. This may seem like an odd design direction to go in, but this could be similar to the bottom case of the latest MacBooks and Apple often likes to introduce complementary design motifs across its product lines.
The same leak also mentions titanium as a frame material (for the Ultra only, perhaps), which we’ve heard before. All of this may end up being subject to supply chain capacity, so don’t be surprised if none of it comes to fruition in time for the iPhone 15 and we get the same design again.
Other smaller rumor tidbits include 8K video recording and battery life improvements of up to 4 hours for the most expensive model.
How much will the iPhone 15 series cost?
US consumers were spared a price hike with the iPhone 14 lineup, but those across the pond were not quite so lucky. Prices increased by as much as £150 in the UK and up to €200 in various European markets. That means that the flagship iPhone 14 Pro Max started at £1,200/€1,449 (UK and Germany). In contrast, you could get a Pixel 7 Pro with the same 128GB storage for just £849/€899 at launch — Apple’s pricing in Europe looks preposterous by comparison.
If Apple keeps the same prices for the iPhone 15 lineup in the US, we’d expect to see starting prices along these lines (for 128GB):
- iPhone 15 — $799
- iPhone 15 Plus — $899
- iPhone 15 Pro — $999
- iPhone 15 Pro Max — $1,099
That said, if the iPhone 15 Pro Max morphs into a super premium iPhone 15 Ultra, expect a price tag to match. More expensive materials like titanium and enhanced features could arrive with a starting price of $1,299 (LeaksApplePro via Forbes) — that’s $200 more than the iPhone 14 Pro Max. We don’t know if similar hikes will come to the other iPhone models, but reports suggest that the iPhone 14 series was around 20% more expensive to produce, so we could finally see this additional cost passed on to consumers in the US as well as everywhere else.
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iPhone 15: What we want to see
Apple’s squared-off design aesthetic was first introduced with the iPhone 4 and was resurrected for the iPhone 12. It’s a popular look, but it does make devices less comfortable in the hand. We’d love to see a brand-new design approach for the next iPhone, though it sounds like we might have to wait for the iPhone 16 for that. We’ll settle for the Dynamic Island on the cheaper iPhones, in that case.
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
We hope the rumored periscope zoom lens is legit as the iPhone has lagged behind its Android rivals in this area. Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra goes up to 10x optical zoom while Google’s substantially cheaper Pixel 7 Pro manages up to 5x optical zoom. It’s finally time to upgrade the iPhone’s 3x zoom so it can compete with the best cameraphones around.
This is heavily rumored and it’s about time! The humble lighting port has served us well, but when you’re shipping products like MacBooks and iPads with USB-C, you know it’s time to bite the bullet and put the same port in your phones.
While Android OEMs have been breaking boundaries with ever faster charging — check out Oppo’s insanely fast 125W charging tech — Apple’s iPhones are stuck with glacial charging speeds. Most iPhones max out at around 22W wired charging and 15W with MagSafe wireless charging, The iPhone 14 Pro Max can technically reach 29W with the right charger, but that’s still not super fast. Apple’s base model iPhone charger is capped at a measly 20W. We want faster charging on iPhones as standard, and we want it several years ago.